Mario Batali’s sons Benno and Leo brine their pork chops overnight before roasting them over a spicy and fragrant mix of fennel and sweet onions.
Slideshow: More Pork Chop Recipes
1 cup kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1 cup packed light brown sugar
12 whole black peppercorns
4 bay leaves
Six 1-pound pork rib chops (1 1/4 inches thick)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium fennel bulbs—halved, cored and thinly sliced (8 cups), 2 tablespoons fronds chopped and reserved
2 sweet onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup all-purpose flour
How to Make It
In a small saucepan, combine the 1 cup of salt with the sugar, peppercorns, bay leaves and 2 cups of water and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Pour the brine into a large pot and add 4 cups of cold water. Let cool. Add the pork chops, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Remove the pork from the brine; discard the brine. Pat the chops dry and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450°. In a large, deep skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the oil until shimmering. Add the sliced fennel, onions, crushed red pepper and fennel pollen, season with salt and black pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden and tender, 15 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until almost evaporated, about 2 minutes. Scrape into a large roasting pan. Wipe out the skillet.
Place the flour in a shallow baking dish. Season the chops on both sides with salt and black pepper, then dredge in the flour, tapping off the excess. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in the skillet. Add 3 of the chops and cook over moderately high heat until deep golden, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chops to the roasting pan. Repeat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and pork chops.
Roast the chops for 18 to 20 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 135°. Transfer to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes. Season the vegetables with salt and black pepper and stir in the fennel fronds. Serve the chops with the vegetables.
Pinot Noir from Mendocino County’s cool Anderson Valley is known for its elegant red fruit and spice, nice with these pork chops.
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Review Body: Be forewarned. This recipe has the potential to be very, very good, but 1 cup of salt for the brine was WAY too much. I can tolerate a lot of salt, but I found following this recipe to the "t" rendered it inedible. I barely salted the vegetables and the pork with salt and pepper prior to dredging in flour, and this recipe was still way too salty. And I mean WAY too salty. I suggest you cut the salt for brining at least in half; maybe even a quarter. That is what I plan to do next time. Good luck.